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Luang Prabang Itinerary: 3 days for the best stay

Luang Prabang Itinerary: 3 days for the best stay

Table Contents
  • 1. Things to know before enjoy Luang Prabang Tours
  • 2. Three days in the Luang Prabang Tours

Once the capital until 1975, when the seat of the Lao government shifted to Vientiane, Luang Prabang continues to enchant visitors with its rich history dating back to the 7th century, earning it the prestigious title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Crafting a meticulous Luang Prabang itinerary spanning three days ensures you maximize your exploration of this distinctive city in Laos.

1. Things to know before enjoy Luang Prabang Tours

When planning your Luang Prabang itinerary, it's essential to consider the best time to visit. Optimal months range from October to March, with January and February marking the peak season. During this period, temperatures are generally pleasant, and rainfall is minimal. 

However, if you find yourself traveling during the wet season, from May to October, anticipate higher humidity and occasional showers, as experienced during our visit in early May.

In terms of currency, the Laotian Kip (LAK) is the official tender in Luang Prabang. As of the time of writing, the exchange rate hovers around €1 to approximately 10,000 LAK and $1 to about 9,000 LAK.

Navigating to Luang Prabang poses a little challenge for travelers. Many arrive via a leisurely boat journey from Huai Xay, while those coming from the south, like Vang Vieng or Vientiane, find the minivan route most convenient.

Once in Luang Prabang, exploring the city and its attractions is a breeze. The compact city center facilitates easy walking to most destinations highlighted in this Luang Prabang itinerary. Should fatigue set in, consider renting a bike or hopping into one of the ubiquitous tuk-tuks for convenient transportation.

2. Three days in the Luang Prabang Tours

2.1 Day 1 in Luang Prabang 

Embarking on your Luang Prabang itinerary for day one offers a delightful array of experiences:

Temple Luang Prabang

Begin your day by immersing yourself in the serenity of Luang Prabang's many temples, a quintessential activity in this culturally rich city. Rather than adhering to a rigid schedule, meander through the streets and stumble upon these architectural gems. For a comprehensive guide, consult a map or the Laos Lonely Planet. Among the plethora of temples, prioritize visiting three prominent ones:

  • The Royal Temple, known formally as Haw Pha Bang, may be relatively new, completed in 2006, but holds profound significance for Luang Prabang. Within its walls resides the revered Phra Bang Buddha, from which the city derives its name.
  • Explore the ancient splendor of Wat Xieng Thong, constructed in the 1500s and meticulously preserved. Adorned with intricate decorations, this temple stands as a testament to Laos's rich Buddhist heritage.
  • Delve into history at Wat Wisunalat, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang dating back to 1512. Marvel at the majestic That Pathum, a grand stupa fashioned in the distinctive Singhalese style. While many temples offer free admission, donations are customary and appreciated.
Immersing yourself in the serenity of Luang Prabang
Immersing yourself in the serenity of Luang Prabang

Traverse the precarious bamboo bridge

Cross the Nam Khan River via the rickety bamboo bridge, a seasonal fixture rebuilt annually after the rainy season subsides. Enjoy the novelty of traversing this unique structure during the dry months, offering a picturesque perspective of the river's surroundings.

Indulge in a serving of peanut butter ice cream at Joma.

Indulge your taste buds with a delectable treat at Joma, renowned for its mouthwatering peanut butter ice cream. Although slightly pricier by Southeast Asian standards, the culinary delights are well worth the expense. Kickstart your day with coffee at Joma and receive a 50% discount coupon for afternoon snacks, including their irresistible ice cream.

Phousi Mountain Trek

Ascend Phousi Mountain for a panoramic vista of Luang Prabang itinerary and its environs, coupled with a rewarding workout. The summit hosts Wat Chom Si, a Buddhist temple, but the primary allure lies in the breathtaking views. Descend via an alternate route to encounter numerous Buddha statues adorning the mountainside. While Mount Phousi offers an idyllic sunset spot, anticipate crowds during this popular time.

The viewpoint of Phousi Mountain
The viewpoint of Phousi Mountain

Walking around Luang Prabang night market

Conclude your evening with a leisurely stroll through the renowned Luang Prabang night market, a bustling hub of activity. Succumb to the temptation of purchasing an array of items, from traditional handicrafts to delectable street food offerings. Open daily from 5 pm to 10 pm, the market provides an immersive cultural experience that's not to be missed.

2.2 Day 2 in Luang Prabang 

Immerse in Kuang Si Falls

Embark on a mountain biking excursion to the breathtaking Kuang Si waterfalls, an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts with moderate fitness levels. While accustomed to cycling in the Netherlands' flat terrain, navigating Luang Prabang's mountainous landscape posed a new challenge, particularly in the sweltering 35-degree Celsius temperatures (towards the end of April). To mitigate the heat, commence your journey in the early morning, minimizing exposure to the day's peak temperatures. Spanning approximately 30 kilometers from Luang Prabang, the route encompasses steep ascents but rewards with stunning vistas and heartwarming interactions with local children in the surrounding villages. Arriving at Kuang Si Falls, marvel at the mesmerizing green-blue hues of the water, a result of limestone particles, and the grandeur of the multi-tiered cascade. Optimal views await atop the falls, making the hike worthwhile.

Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang
Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang

Relax in the Red Cross sauna

Following your invigorating biking excursion, unwind at the Red Cross sauna, a well-deserved respite for weary muscles. Contrary to European sauna traditions, expect a steamy atmosphere in this sauna, veiling everything in a thick mist. Separate facilities are available for men and women, where bathing attire is mandatory, and towels provided for modesty. Indulge in a relaxing massage amidst the sauna's comforting ambiance, rejuvenating your body after a day of adventure.

2.3 Day 3 in Luang Prabang 

Experience the final day of your Luang Prabang itinerary with a blend of cultural exploration and relaxation:

The UXO museum

Commence your day by visiting the museum, a poignant reminder of Laos's tumultuous past and the ongoing repercussions of unexploded ordnance (UXOs). While our visit coincided with the museum's closure, we redirected to the COPE museum in Vientiane, offering similar insights into the devastating impact of UXOs in Laos. Reflect on the sobering reality that Laos remains the most heavily bombed country in history, with over two million tons of cluster bombs dropped during the Vietnam War. Support education and UXO clearance efforts by contributing to the museum's cause, ensuring a safer future for Laos. Although entry is free, consider leaving a donation to aid in the museum's vital mission.

UXO Museum in Luang Prabang
UXO Museum in Luang Prabang

Enjoy at Utopia

Afterward, unwind at Utopia, a haven for travelers seeking relaxation amidst good music, scenic views, and camaraderie with fellow backpackers. Savor the laid-back ambiance and peruse the enticing menu, offering a variety of delectable options. Spending your late afternoon at Utopia, especially on your final day in Luang Prabang, promises a memorable experience.

See the sunset in Mekong River - The best Luang Prabang viewpoint
See the sunset in Mekong River - The best Luang Prabang viewpoint

Mekong River Cruise

As the day transitions to evening, opt for a tranquil sunset viewing along the majestic Mekong River, offering a serene alternative to the bustling crowds atop Phu Si Mountain. Stroll along the riverbank and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the moment as you witness the sun's gentle descent, casting a warm glow over the tranquil waters. Embrace the peaceful ambiance and bid farewell to Luang Prabang with a tranquil sunset vista along the Mekong River.

Table of contents
  • 1. Things to know before enjoy Luang Prabang Tours
  • 2. Three days in the Luang Prabang Tours
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